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Next Day Analysis

Author: Poetry of Randall Jarrell Type: Poetry Views: 420

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Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,

I take a box

And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.

The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical

Food-gathering flocks

Are selves I overlook.Wisdom, said William James,Is learning what to overlook.And I am wise

If that is wisdom.

Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves

And the boy takes it to my station wagon,

What I've become

Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.When I was young and miserable and pretty

And poor, I'd wish

What all girls wish: to have a husband,

A house and children.Now that I'm old, my wish

Is womanish:

That the boy putting groceries in my carSee me.It bewilders me he doesn't see me.

For so many years

I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me

And its mouth watered.How often they have undressed me,

The eyes of strangers!

And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vileImaginings within my imagining,

I too have taken

The chance of life.Now the boy pats my dog

And we start home.Now I am good.

The last mistaken,

Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blindHappiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm

Some soap and water--

It was so long ago, back in some Gay

Twenties, Nineties, I don't know . . . Today I miss

My lovely daughter

Away at school, my sons away at school,My husband away at work--I wish for them.

The dog, the maid,

And I go through the sure unvarying days

At home in them.As I look at my life,

I am afraid

Only that it will change, as I am changing:I am afraid, this morning, of my face.

It looks at me

From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,

The smile I hate.Its plain, lined look

Of gray discovery

Repeats to me: "You're old."That's all, I'm old.And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral

I went to yesterday.

My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,

Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body

Were my face and body.

As I think of her and I hear her telling meHow young I seem; I


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